What has football got to do with music you ask? Well, here you have it: Bands FC. The brainchild of Mark Liptrott, founder of Concrete Studios and Nick Fraser, the merchandiser for The Charlatans.
Music and footie have always gone hand in hand, but never to this extent. I caught up with company founder Nick Fraser to get the lowdown on all things ‘Bands FC’.
Bands FC was created during the height of the 2018 World Cup. Founders Mark Liptrott and Nick Fraser came up with the idea after a conversation about keeping music relevant whilst football was dominating the summer schedule.
“It was the start of the World Cup and we were talking and saying how everything was suddenly going to be focused on football. It was a sort of light-hearted conversation though, we decided that if bands wanted to stand more of a chance of coverage during the World Cup they had to football themselves up a bit. We weren’t too sure what that actually meant. We were thinking about it, and what if bands were football teams kind of came up”, says Nick Fraser during our interview.
It was here the lightbulb moment happened and within an hour, ideas were being brought to the table. The design process involves a link between a football club and a band. Whether that be the band members hometown football club, a connection between a bands song title and football club’s nickname or something that connects both historically or culturally.
“The first one we did was Echo & The Bunnymen as Liverpool. It’s a team the band supports. It’s a really quite complex badge, so it meant we could get lyrics in and their sort of little emblem that the band uses. There are loads of hidden clues, like the killing moon and stuff”.
“The second one was probably the polar opposite, we found the Wolverhampton Wanderers badge, it doesn’t have any writing on it, it’s partly to do with the wolf and partly to do with the black and gold. So we just thought is there a band that doesn’t have to use its name? You know there’s a few, but we went for Wu-Tang Clan, so recognisable by the Wu symbol. It was a sort of jumping off point for us”, he said.
Wu-Tang Clan released the song Wolves in 2007, the link to Wolverhampton Wanderers FC being in the title of the song. The Cure design followed the same strategy, with the track title ‘A Forest’ with relevance towards Nottingham Forest FC. This design, in particular, caused a lot of confusion with some fans missing the point.
“People would say ‘How dare you, the Cure aren’t from Nottingham they’re from Crawley’. I never knew they were from Crawley until I’d been told a thousand times”, says Fraser.
A design close to the heart of the Bands FC founder is Death Cab for Cutie as Derby County FC. Nick used to follow Derby County as a kid and after seeing Death Cab for Cutie live, the initials DCFC set off a spark in his brain. The design gained recognition from Death Cab for Cutie who shared it on social media.
“It’s got a funny element really” Nick explained. “We imagined there’s been a lot of tweets to death cab saying ‘We need to get rid of that striker, he’s hopeless in front of goal’ and Derby County Football Club probably get them saying ‘I just wanna tell you how much I love your second album, we walked down the aisle to track 3’. It’s like any subject really, it’s humorous, serious and conversational”.
Bands FC have caught a lot of attention in such a short space of time, so what has the reception been like from fans, bands, and clubs?
“Suede absolutely loved theirs, The The asked us to meet up and wanted us to send some prints to them, same as Franz Ferdinand”.
“The Franz Ferdinand one kind of suited the band. People think of the band as quite brainy, the only link we had to Franz Ferdinand was Archduke Franz Ferdinand shot in Sarajevo in 1914, the event that’s said to trigger World War 1, so we used Sarajevo’s badge. They raved about it, we met up with them at Festival No. 6”.
“The Charlatans loved theirs, so did Levellers and Public Service Broadcast came down to the Royal Albert Hall exhibition”, Nick explained.
Making money wasn’t the incentive for Bands FC. They wanted to collaborate with bands to create exclusive designs for charity and so far have raised over £70,000.
“Just doing things for the sake of it is just a little bit self-indulgent”, says Nick.
Bands FC collaborated with Pulp and Sheffield artist Pete McKee to design a Sheffield Wednesday, Pulp inspired shirt. All donations went towards the Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
“We raised £30,000 in one day with the Pulp shirt. We heard from Jarvis Cocker, congratulating us”.
Following their success, they have collaborated with Stanley Chow who designed the Blur crest and Peter Saville who designed the New Order crest. Will there be any more collaborators in the pipeline for future designs?
“No, we’ve kind of just nosied along on our own. It was great when we got those ones. We weren’t looking for anyone new. If Peter Blake came and said ‘You want one doing?’, we’d maybe have a think and say yes”, he jokes.
When asking Nick Fraser which design was his favourite, he stated that “this changes all the time but for today, Daft Punk”.
“Loads of people loved it, people were saying ‘It’s amazing how they got the robots in’ and other people were going ‘I never noticed the robots, it’s even more amazing now’. In terms of graphic design that was the pinnacle of it”, says Fraser.
Bands FC have been showcasing their incredible designs at exhibitions up and down the country, including The Royal Albert Hall, The National Football Museum and The Salford Lads Club to name a few. The founders have even taken their designs abroad, hosting an exhibition in New York. If you missed out on the chance to see these designs, don’t be alarmed. Bands FC have more exhibitions coming up this year in Liverpool, Wrexham, Newcastle, Margate, Kingston Upon Thames, Dunfermline, Durham, and Dublin.